Anna May is being courted by Newly but her mother does not think he is good enough and wants her to marry Steven Rogers which has just came back from a school back east and set to take over his father's business. Joan sees her daughter marrying into money and do all the things she wished she had done in her life. Then we get to see the psychotic side of Joan Shepard as she tries to eliminate all suitors thinking she knows what is best for her daughter.
The ending is not a pleasant one. It is a sad reminder that even our own family members may need help and sometimes we really do not know the right remedy to give. A melancholy show where the viewer cannot do anything else but watch till the end.
In fact, from the start to the finish, it is a disturbing episode, dealing with a widow mother's psychosis. She married her husband in a void of unhappiness lamenting a dream unfulfilled. Obsessed about her own supposed missed opportunity, she dominates her two children's lives until she chases her son away, and then ultimately tries the same overbearing, and often unprincipled manipulations, of her younger daughter.
The ultimate moral lesson presented is that if a mother destroys the dreams of her children, for whatever reason, the pain never subsides, and the parent is often left alone and distraught.
It was a painful lesson to watch in fictional drama, but the message was delivered in a starkly honest method. There was no happy ending in this episode. The ending was bitter.
While her daughter isn't driven completely away, the mother's ongoing efforts to manipulate the daughter's life continues unabated, despite the painful moral lessons that should have been learned from the previous destructive actions.
We are left in the final scene presenting a son filled with angst, torn between wanting to support his mother, but also knowing he needs to keep proper distance so that he can pursue his own dreams, as well as his knowledge that he must help prevent his mother from harming his sister's life in the same way his mother harmed his own.
This is another Gunsmoke episode unafraid to tell a stark story, presenting in realistic tones the negative outcomes of manipulation, especially manipulation of those you love the most.